Buccaneers: University of Southern California prospects to watch
By Brian DeFeo
The 40 teams in 40 days continues with the USC Trojans. The Buccaneers may have to send some scouts across the US to look at these prospects but could it be worth it?
In the Buccaneers draft history, they have taken eleven Trojans. All the way back in 1977 they selected the first overall pick running back Ricky Bell from USC. Since then they have not taken another Trojan in the first round but they have three second rounders. The most recent player the Bucs selected was last season in the seventh round, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, Stevie T for short. While Stevie hasn’t played a snap in the NFL yet due to injury he’ll get his shot this off-season. The Buccaneers are in need of another running back, could they select their fourth from USC in team history.
Let’s take a look at all the prospects that USC has available and who the Buccaneers could be targeting.
Wide Receiver – Deontay Burnett
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Quarterback – Sam Darnold
Defensive End – Rasheem Green
Running Back – Ronald Jones II
Outside Linebacker – Uchenna Nwosu
Guard – Viane Talamaivao
Center – Nico Falah
Safety – Chirs Hawkins
Wide Receiver – Steven Mitchell
SENIOR TO WATCH: OUTSIDE LINEBACKER – UCHENNA NWOSU
The Buccaneers linebackers are stout with many young, fast, tackling machines. However, they are not utilized in the pass rush as well as they could be. The Buccaneers ranked dead last in sacks this season with only 22. For comparison, Michael Strahan‘s single-season record was 22.5. When one person had more sacks than your entire team you need to change something.
USC’s linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, while having a difficult name, had a very productive pass rushing season. With 9.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss would be the most on the Buccaneers this past season. While the NFL is much different than the Pac 12, the production was there. Nwosu also made an impact in the passing game with thirteen pass breakups, which would also be the most on the Buccaneers.
Nwosu isn’t an elite pass rusher but he has the traits to make an impact in the league. He’s projected as a third or fourth rounder right now and Jason Licht has had some success with middle round linebackers lately. Nwosu might be on the radar for Mike Smith and Jason Licht.
UNDERCLASSMAN TO WATCH: RUNNING BACK – RONALD JONES II
The Buccaneers main needs are on defense but the biggest need on offense is clearly running back. The issues on offense were mainly due to lack of consistency with the ground game leading to the Buccaneers passing far more than rushing. When the nine of the top ten rushing teams are in the playoffs it isn’t a coincidence, it’s a sign of top-tier teams. The best strategy to beat the Patriots is to control the clock and pressure the quarterback, two things the Buccaneers don’t have, and the Patriots have proven to consistently be the best team in football.
Doug Martin is not going to be on the Buccaneers next season due to his lack of consistency and high cap hit. Charles Sims has proven to be nothing more than a pass catcher on third downs. Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber are nice but are not going to strike fear into the hearts of defenses. The Bucs need someone who can make a play every down he is on the field.
Ronald Jones has been a very productive back in his three years at USC recording better numbers in each season. This past season in thirteen games Jones racked up 1550 rushing yards,187 receiving yards, and twenty total touchdowns. Right now Walter Football has the Buccaneers selecting him with their second-round pick. I believe that is too early for him but if all the top tier running backs are off the board it may be more of a necessity pick than a quality pick.
Next: Mississippi State 2018 Draft Prospects To Watch
Who do you want the Buccaneers to look at from the Trojans? Comment on Facebook or Twitter to say who you want them to watch. Continue to follow our 40 teams in 40 days.